Fail to prepare for a media interview and be prepared to fail, as Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman discovered recently.

Ms Harman, who generally enjoys a reputation as a confident media operator, struggled to give the figures on how much a bankers’ tax would raise or how much a job creation plan would cost.

Speaking to Jo Coburn of the Daily Politics Show from a Labour meeting in Coventry, Harriet Harman said: “I will have to get back to you on that.”

When asked about the cost of the job creation guarantee plans, she said, “There is no mystery about it,” although she was unable to give any figures on the cost. Later in the interview Ms Harman said the figures were “at hand, just out of reach here – and you know it is a carefully costed programme.”

Unlike politicians, most people don’t get the chance to be interviewed live by a broadcaster, but if you do, seize the opportunity to promote your business/service with both hands.

Prepare fully!

These tips should help:

  • Try to find out what the reporter wants to know in advance (or at least the gist of it). Ask what the first question will be so you start off on the right foot
  • Ask if the reporter is interviewing anyone else at the same time (to ensure you are not being pitted against someone else)
  • Prep with your own question and answers (Q&A) to ensure you’re ready for any potentially sticky questions you may be asked
  • Research thoroughly – consider strengths and weaknesses of your product or service
  • Look up facts and figures (unlike Harriet!) and if you are asked a question you can’t answer, admit it, don’t try to bluff!
  • Hone your messages to three key points and avoid jargon!
  • Try to answer every question clearly and succinctly
  • Thank the journalist when it is over